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Thursday, January 3, 2013

KLS chair slams "march" of out-of-town developments

The chair of a group dedicated to preserving Llangollen’s small shops has hit out at what he calls the “continuing march of out-of-town developments”.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has just called on MPs to prioritise listening to local businesses and to help halt the decline of high streets.

It has recommended that taking action against the rising cost of doing business in the UK is the number one thing that MPs should do to help high streets.

The BRC is asking them to support calls for the government to freeze business rates, which are set to rise by 2.6% in 2013.

Mike Edwards, (pictured left) chair of Keep Llangollen Special which has strongly opposed the new Sainsbury’s store planned for the town, said: “This article is clearly aimed at Westminster MPs, but applies equally to Welsh Assembly politicians.

“However, the issue of high business rates raised by the BRC whilst being a real factor for independent businesses trading in the high street, masks the real problem of the continuing march of out-of-town retail developments.

“Despite having planning policies in place to protect town centres and sustainability to discourage increased vehicle journeys these are blatantly ignored when a corporate business comes along and waves its financial muscle at LPAs and WG.” 

He added: “The First Minister in his New Year message strongly states his aim to encourage new economic developments, but this is clearly to the detriment of local independent businesses and economies.  

“Government states that they wish to involve local communities in decision making, but in practice they and local authorities treat residents of communities with total disrespect and treat anyone who makes their views known as some sort of activist and politicians tell local communities what is good for them.  

“What is the point in allowing out-of-town super stores if that decimates a vibrant town centre and leads to businesses closing down and a loss of employment in those businesses? 

“In a separate article the BRC makes reference to an improved situation in vacant shop premises in town centres, but when you look at the figures the improvement is marginal and on average 14% of retail space is still vacant in town centres up and down the UK.”

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